They’re commonly thought to be the same thing, however head lice are small, wingless insects that feed on blood from the scalp while nits are their eggs. They’re found worldwide and have been around for thousands of years. Thankfully these days you can find a range of treatment options at your Unichem Pharmacy.
Nits are usually easier to see than head lice. Use a bright light or torch and look at the hairs behind the ears, at the nape of the neck, or at the base of a pony tail. New eggs are usually found close to the scalp. They are small and hard – like a grain of salt – and are usually yellow white to brown in colour. Unlike dandruff, nits are firmly attached to the hair and hard to remove. Older, hatched eggs are usually transparent and found further from the scalp.
Head lice are brown or grey in colour and approximately 2 – 4 mm long. If you part the hairs on the scalp you may see them quickly crawl away to a more hidden area. It may be easier to see head lice if you apply conditioner to dry hair, wait ten minutes, then comb through with a metal nit comb, wiping the excess on a tissue. The dark lice are easily visible against the white tissue. This technique is called “wet combing”. You can find nit combs at your local Unichem Pharmacy.
It’s a good idea to check your child’s hair for head lice or nits every week.
Head lice treatments are either chemical or non-chemical and available as shampoos, lotions, mousses or sprays. So which should you choose? It really comes down to your personal preference, how much time you have and your success with previous treatments. If you’re unsure you can speak to your Unichem Pharmacist about which product best suits you.
These contain pesticides deemed safe for human use. They kill lice directly, without harming the person being treated.
These include products that contain benzyl alcohol, herbal ingredients, or essential oils. Most work by suffocating the head lice and can be as effective as chemical treatments.
Both chemical and non-chemical treatments are more effective at killing head lice than nits so the majority of products require a repeat treatment after seven days.
If you don’t find any lice aftert the second treatment, no further treatment is required. However if they have returned either treat a third time after seven days, use the wet comb technique, or see your Unichem Pharmacist.
Head lice are fairly resilient and sometimes difficult to treat. If you’re not having success, there could be a number of reasons:
If one treatment hasn’t worked it may be best to try a different option. Ask your Unichem Pharmacist for advice and how many days to leave between treatments.
If your child has head lice it’s a good idea to notify their school so that other children can be checked too.
Remember to always apply treatment strictly in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and talk to your Unichem Pharmacist if somebody requiring treatment is pregnant or breastfeeding.